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Level of difficulty : Difficult

Why do we call an electronic watch a quartz watch?

Some electronic watches are called "quartz" because they contain a fine strip of quartz crystal.


Quartz is made up of an organized structure of silicon atoms. We talk about a quartz crystal when the atoms are arranged in an hexagonal shape. Some quartz crystals have piezoelectric properties, a property discovered in 1880 by the Curie brothers. This means that an electric current appears on the surface of these quartz crystals when mechanically deformed and that they change shape when subjected to an electrical force. The piezoelectric properties of quartz mean that you can obtain very precise oscillation frequencies.

It's in the case.

The watch case houses the battery which provides the electric energy, causing the quartz to vibrate, extremely precisely, more than 32,000 times per second. The battery also feeds an integrated circuit which receives electric impulses, turning the liquid crystal digital display opaque. It's an extremely precise system as you lose only 0.3 seconds each month.

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Place : Bâtiment des forces motrices, Genève
Date : January 20th 2013

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